Understanding Depression in Children and Adults

Although a sizable number of people suffer from depression on a daily basis, many still consider this a taboo subject. Many who live with chronic depression feel forced to keep their mental state hidden because of common myths associated with this illness. For example, those who are not knowledgeable about depression may believe untruths such as:

  • Depression is caused by childhood trauma
  • Those who are depressed commit suicide
  • Depression is a personality weakness
  • Depression is the result of bad parenting

Some of these conditions may lead to depression; however, many individuals who suffer from depression cannot pinpoint the reason. Instead of hiding behind a pretense, those with chronic depression such learn the facts, and seek the necessary medical treatment that is intended to reverse negative feeling and improve emotional state.

What is Depression?

Depression is a potentially severe medical problem that affects approximately 10% of the population. Everyone experiences some degree of depression during their life. This is normal, and usually does not require treatment. However, depression may become severe, in which a person may feel an overwhelming sadness that last weeks, months, or years. This mental state may cause a person to remain in bed for days at a time, or result in a person not being able to hold employment. This level of depression generally requires professional support.

Who Gets Depression?

Depression may affect anyone regardless of age or background. Adults are more prone to depression because they have greater responsibilities, and may easily become weighed down with life’s problems. Nonetheless, children are not exempt. Approximately 2 million children suffer from depression that may result from a range of factors. Depression in children may be caused by:

Medical problems
Psychiatric illnesses
Environment
Television
Genetics

Identifying depression in children is at times difficult. In most cases, depression is manifested through bad behavior. Parents and teachers may refer to a depressed youth as “bratty.” However, extreme bad behavior always has an underlying cause whether it is a lack of discipline, or a mental issue. Symptoms that may help determine if a child suffers from depression includes:

Frequent crying
Increased irritability
Aggressive behavior
Self-destructive behavior
Drawings reflecting dark images

Adults who suffer from severe depression may have noticeable symptoms such as:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Lost of interest of pleasurable activities
  • Decreased energy, or sleeping more than usual
  • Suicide attempts
  • Pessimism
  • Withdrawal

What Causes Depression?

Depression may be caused by several factors. One major cause of depression is genetics. Researchers have discovered a pattern from studying individuals who suffer from depression. Most of the time, these people also had a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, sibling, and so forth that suffered from one of the many forms of depression. This is more so the case in situations when depression is not the result of life experiences. Additional major depression triggers include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Abuse (physical or emotional)
  • Important life events (having a baby, moving, retiring, graduating, etc)
  • Illnesses
  • Substance abuse (drugs or alcohol)

Women have a higher chance of developing depression because they undergo many hormonal changes. These changes include regular monthly cycles, menopause, giving birth, and having a miscarriage. Additionally, women also endure numerous pressures that arise from working, caring for the house, and rearing children (with or without a spouse). The number of men who suffer from depression is considerably lowered than women. However, because males are more inclined to hide depression, they do not seek help. Not addressing the issue of depression contributes to a high suicide rate in men. In addition, men who suffer from stress induced depression are twice as likely to experience a potentially fatal stroke or heart attack. Prolonged depression should not be minimized; both men and women should seek the necessary medical treatment to improve their mental well-being.

Treatment Options

Medications are extremely affective with treating depression. Typical drugs prescribed by physicians include Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac, and Wellbutrin. These drugs work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Individuals who prefer to treat minor depression naturally can select herbal supplements such as St. John’s Worth, which is known to improve mental health. The advantage of herbal drugs is that there is a low risk of side effects. Prescription drugs are effective; however, those who take these medications may experience a noticeable decrease in sex drive. Fatigue, nausea, insomnia, and bleeding are also common side effects. However, St. Johns Worth is not suitable for women who take oral contraception. This herbal drug decreases the effectiveness of birth control pills, which places many women at risk of conceiving a baby.

Individuals who suffer from depression may also achieve a state of mental well-being with alternative therapies. Regularly exercising, proper diet, and other lifestyle changes are effective with relieving depression. In addition, Chinese medicine, positive imagery, chiropractic care, aromatherapy, and hypnosis are promising choices for treating depression.

The odds of suffering from another bout of depression after treatment are high. In cases of severe depression, physicians may recommend long-term drug use, in addition to making necessary lifestyle changes and adopting relaxation techniques. The length of depression varies person-to-person. Those who suffer from severe depression because of a negative life experience may be able to successfully overcome this illness with medication or therapy. Moreover, once the problem or situation causing the depression is resolved, the person will likely recover. However, those who suffer from depression that is due to genetic factors may have a life long battle.

Living with a Depressed Person

Living with a depressed person may be an uphill battle for some family members. People manifest depression in many forms which includes complete isolation or aggressive behavior. Depressed individuals may have periods of overwhelming sadness which result in extreme crying spells or fits of anger. Bipolar is a form of depression that is characterized by intense mood swings. A bipolar person may be happy one minute, and angry the next. Those who live with a bipolar person may undergo severe emotional stress because they cannot predict when the person will “flip” personalities. The following will help a loved one to cope with a depressed person:

  • Be patient and understanding
  • Listen carefully
  • Encourage social interaction
  • Reassure them of your love
  • Promote treatment
  • Closely monitor depressed person
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